Showtime, BBC link up for sitcom parody

“Friends” alum Matt LeBlanc has signed on to play himself in the sitcom parody “Episodes,” a co-production of Showtime and the BBC that will air simultaneously on both nets.

Single-camera laffer centers on a British couple whose U.K. laffer is turned into a dumbed-down American sitcom starring LeBlanc (playing a version of himself). Six episodes will be produced.

“Friends” exec producer David Crane is behind the show, along with his partner, Jeffrey Klarik (“The Class”).

Crane and Klarik created the show with Jimmy Mulville, who is also an exec producer on the show through his Hat Trick shingle.

Shooting will begin in London and Hollywood this winter; “Episodes” will bow on Showtime and BBC 2 in 2010.

“We jumped at the chance to get involved with this cockeyed look at network television told through the eyes of unsuspecting British producers who don’t know what hit them when they enter the lion’s den of Hollywood,” said Showtime Entertainment prexy Bob Greenblatt. “And Matt LeBlanc, wryly sending up his own image, is icing on the cake.”

LeBlanc becomes the second “Friends” alum to parody Hollywood on pay cable: Lisa Kudrow played a washed-up actress on HBO’s “The Comeback.” Meanwhile, Matthew Perry starred in NBC’s “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” a send-up of “Saturday Night Live,” while Courteney Cox took on the celebrity tabloid world in FX’s “Dirt.”

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